Staff

Staff

 

Rabbi Joshua Lesser

Rabbi Joshua Lesser leads Congregation Bet Haverim as a place dedicated to celebrating all aspects of Jewish life and creating an accessible and engaging spiritual home. Together he and the members of CBH have fostered a warm environment balancing the needs of a diverse community. Rabbi Josh is dedicated to contributing to the Jewish community and the city of Atlanta in positive ways. 

With an eye for innovation and encouraging new leaders, Rabbi Josh has been instrumental in illuminating the skills and talents of the CBH community. As a catalyst, he supports the creativity, ingenuity and enterprising spirit of members as they engage in synagogue life. His collaborative leadership has helped cultivate CBH’s flourishing music program, the CBH Community School, the Eli/Rose Adult Program Fund, a teen book group and the b’nai mitzvah process, along with numerous creative rituals and services. He breathes new life into Jewish tradition. His adventurous spirit has propelled him to found new programs like the Rainbow Center, a Jewish communal response to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

 

Amy Robertson

Executive Director

As Executive Director, Amy divides her attention between the forest and the trees, ensuring that both the daily operations and the longer term vision for our community are executed carefully and according to the values of our community. One the one hand, she works closely with the board to oversee our finances, manages the staff and office needs, supports our lay leadership and volunteers, assist the Board in determining issues of governance, and tries to be sure that the broader community knows about the important work our community does. On the other hand, she works with Rabbi Josh and the board to continually renew and revitalize our community’s vision for our future and our strategy for getting there. 

Amy’s professional background straddles education, administration, and community building. During her lengthy career as a student, she worked as a Director in the Office of Student Life at both Rice University and Harvard Divinity School, where she was tasked with bringing together a multitude of departments and personalities to create welcoming, coherent, informative, and well-executed orientation programs for hundreds of incoming students. While finishing her dissertation at Emory, she began working as Director of Education here at Bet Haverim, which, at that time, had a relatively small school of about 80 students. During her four years as education director, she developed administrative and curricular systems that enabled continued growth while also bringing a culture of increased collaboration to the school, and worked to bring CBH’s values – and warmth – to the most minute details of school operations. Under her leadership, K-7 school enrollment grew by 40%. As Executive Director, Amy strives to do much the same thing for the wider CBH community. 

Amy earned her B.A. from Rice University, a Master of Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Religion (Tanakh) from Emory University. She loves learning, problem solving, value-based decision making, and community building – and as a context for all of these things, Judaism. She grew up in an interfaith family on Long Island, and now makes a musical, chaotic, philosophical, and joyful home with her partner Will, who is the choir director here at CBH, and their two children, Levi and Noa. She does her best to make time for reading, music, exercise, and, perhaps most importantly, gazing off into the woods behind her house.

 

Gayanne Geurin

Music Director

Gayanne Geurin is responsible for the artistic integration of music programming in the congregational life at CBH. As music director, she researches and selects music for the congregation’s chorus and band, creating its overarching feel. She leads a weekly Wednesday morning and every other Monday evening chant  and meditation service. She serves as a lay cantor leading and co-leading many services at CBH. 

Gayanne co founded the chorus at Congregation Bet Haverim in 1999. While helping to create the synagogue’s music program, she delved deeper into her longtime avocation as a singer and immersed herself in researching Jewish music of all eras and cultures. She developed an innovative approach toward musically enriching Jewish liturgy, working closely with Rabbi Lesser. She has fostered an inventive musical spirit that has evolved organically from the pool of CBH’s musician members, trained and untrained alike. This collaborative sensibility, which fits beautifully with Reconstructionist ideals, has provided the character and foundation for the music program.

Gayanne trained under Robert Shaw as a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus. More recently she studied spiritual drumming with Layne Redmond, Akiva Wharton and Shoshanna Jebweb. She has studied under groundbreaking Jewish musicians Basia Schecter, Shefa Gold and Jacqueline Westhead. She has done extensive training with one of a kind improvisational vocal performer and  teacher Rhiannon. Most recently she completed Jeanette LoVetri's Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method Levels I, II, III.

Beyond music, Gayanne holds a master's degree in religious studies from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a master's in clinical social work. She was a psychotherapist for 27 years. Now, when not working at CBH she offers vocal coaching and life coaching sessions at her home studio. She has two adult children, Micah and Sarra.

"Maybe it's only once in a lifetime that one has the opportunity to be in the mix of great musicians and thinkers who volunteer and dedicate their talents toward making music with a purpose. I have that blessing as music director of CBH," says Gayanne. "The spirit of willingness from the singers and instrumentalists to offer their gifts is astounding.  I am amazed and honored to work with one of the most talented musicians I have ever met in Will Robertson and the most receptive and innovative rabbi in Joshua Lesser.

 

Will Robertson
Choir Director

Will Robertson is CBH's chorus director and bandleader and the composer or arranger of much of the synagogue's repertoire. 

 

Will studied classical double bass, composition and choral conducting at Rice University in Houston and the Kodaly Pedagogical Institute in Hungary and music production at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He has been the producer of all of CBH's albums to date. 

 

As an instrumentalist, Will has worked or performed with Grammy-winning and -nominated musicians such as John Mayer, Clay Cook (Zac Brown Band), Shawn Mullins and Pat Sansone (Wilco). Will has also produced/engineered, performed with and arranged for artists such as Rebecca Loebe (featured on the debut season of NBC’s “The Voice”), David Berkeley, Arlington Priest, The Brilliant Inventions and Eliot Bronson. Will’s work has been featured on TV and radio worldwide. 

Will, his wife Amy and their two children are actively involved members of CBH. 

"The thing I have found most compelling about working with the musicians of CBH is their thirst for fusing all sorts of different sounds in interesting ways," Will says. "We somehow manage to successfully navigate a number of different stylistic roads, merging many varied traditions (Jewish and otherwise) with popular song, world music, ancient chant and all sorts of sounds you'd never expect to hear in a synagogue. I think this musical audacity is directly attributable to the culture of the congregation; incredible leadership from Rabbi Josh and Gayanne; a group of singers and instrumentalists with the focus, energy, dedication and desire to work to create something really unique; and, not least, the interpretive spirit of Reconstructionist Judaism. It's an honor and an incredible pleasure to be a part of this group."

 

Emet Ozar
Education Programs

Emet Ozar was born and raised in California. After graduating with a degree in Learning, Design, & Technology from Stanford University, Emet worked primarily in Operations. Emet attended the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Israel, which prompted the desire to work in Jewish education. Emet's passions include reading, listening to music, the joy of Shabbat and the delicious meals associated with it, learning Jewish texts, creative problem solving, snacking, robots, and building and fixing things. Emet got engaged in Jerusalem and is married with one child. 

Agatha Walker
Rabbi's Assistant

Agatha Walker has many years of experience as an administrative assistant and enjoys the variety of tasks that the job has to offer. 


Agatha is a graduate of Emory University and a native of Atlanta. She is a devoted mother to a wonderful daughter. Agatha loves reading, knitting, eating ice cream and pizza, hiking and spending time with friends and family.

Julie Lakric

Administrator

Julie Lakric is originally from Milwaukee, WI. Her background is as a Certified Preschool Teacher and she has always loved working with children. Julie has three children, two daughters and a son. She loves the theater and has passed this passion down to her children. In fact, many hours have been logged driving her daughters to rehearsals, practicing lines, and enjoying performances. Her son started to film the performances and this quickly developed a business, which grew into filming shows for local schools. Julie became the sidekick for her son and helps to carry equipment.

A few more fun facts about Julie…she loves Italian food and could eat pasta every day! Her favorite sport is football and her favorite team is the Green Bay Packers, she’s a very loyal Cheesehead! But is there any other kind?

Allison Carter

Events and Communications Manager

Allison Carter serves as the Jill-of-all-trades behind the scenes at CBH. She is our website guru, communications expert, and event coordinator. Allison honed her communication skills at CNN and Headline News as a writer and Assignment Editor in the 90's. After having two children, she left the exciting life of broadcast news and started a business as a Professional Organizer where she tackled clutter in closets and offices around Atlanta. 

Fun Facts: enjoys zentangle/purposeful doodling, zumba, Dr.Who, and kayaking.

Jewish Geography:  Where do I know you from... South Miami, Camp Coleman in the 70s-80s, Kutz Camp, University of Texas, Marietta, GA, CNN??

 

Sun, 26 February 2017 30 Shevat 5777